In This Section

Upper School Faculty

Upper School Office

Wade Tapp
Head of Upper School

B.A  Broadfield Science (Biology), Covenant College
M.Ed Educational Leadership, Covenant College

For Wade Tapp, Christian education is an opportunity to celebrate the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all areas of creation. Mr. Tapp believes Christian education prepares students to influence and engage in culture in a way that is transformative. His favorite verse, 3 John 1:4, states “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” This verse speaks to the blessing of seeing the children in our care embrace a relationship with Jesus for themselves.

Email: wade.tapp@acalion.org

Erin Winter
US Administrative Assistant

B.S. Business Administration, Gardner Webb University

Erin Winter took on the position of administrative assistant to the upper school in 2014. She is glad to have the opportunity to see students’ lives transformed by the Gospel through the classroom. Mrs. Winter cherishes John 3:30’s message that we have been given everything through Jesus, so we cannot boast in ourselves.

Email: erin.winter@acalion.org

Anna Harris
Fine Arts and US Office

B.A. Business Administration, Belhaven University

Anna Harris began her position assisting the fine arts department in 2013. She believes that fine arts programs greatly enrich students’ lives. Originally, from Tuscumbia, Alabama, Mrs. Harris attended Belhaven College in Mississippi. Her favorite verse is Isaiah 43:1 because it tells us that, while we all desire to be known, the God of the universe knows us by name.

Email:  anna.harris@acalion.org

Keri Boer
Director of Guidance

B.A. Social Work, Bethel College
M.A. Social Work, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Keri Boer serves as the Director of College Guidance. Mrs. Boer grew up in Fort Dodge, Iowa before studying social work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Mrs. Boer believes that when we seek to operate out of a Gospel-centered worldview, we recognize our dependence on our Creator’s blessings as He develops our gifts for His Glory and the benefit of others. It is important to her that students are able to explore their beliefs, knowledge, creativity, relationships, and activities in an environment dedicated to the Truth. Mrs. Boer is also a North Carolina state licensed clinical social worker.

Email:  keri.boer@acalion.org

Joe Hagan
Assistant Director of Guidance

B.Arch. and  B.S. Environmental Studies, Auburn University
M.A. Ed. Physical Education, University of Montevallo

During his junior year as an Architecture student at Auburn University, Mr. Hagan decided to commit his future career plans to the Lord. The Lord led him to continue his education to become a certified teacher after earning his degree in Architecture. Titus 3:5 speaks to him through the message that a believer’s feeble efforts will not be used to gauge worthiness when he is before the Lord. 

Email:  joe.hagan@acalion.org

Dean of Students

Mattie Hensley
Dean of Women

B.S. Mathematics, Minor in Christian Ministry, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

A native to Salado, Texas, Mattie Hensley joined the ACA upper school faculty in 2015. Her belief that the love of the Lord begins with knowing Him better through the study of His word directs her efforts as a Christian educator. Mrs. Hensley is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Biblical counseling. 

Email:  mattie.hensley@acalion.org

Jason Ingle
Dean of Men

B.S. Business Administration, Appalachian State University
M.A. Theology, Liberty University

Jason Ingle began his position as Dean of Men in 2013. Mr. Ingle joined the ACA faculty for the opportunity to mentor and disciple young men and women. He also serves as head coach of varsity cross country. Psalm 40 is important to him because of the reminder that God not only saves us, but He also hears us.

Email:  jason.ingle@acalion.org

English Department

Mary Ellen Auten
Yearbook

B.A. Mathematics, Salem University

Mary Ellen Auten started working at ACA in 2008. She uses her talents in many ways at ACA. She serves as the yearbook teacher, manages the school calendar, and works in the facilities department. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, tea, stained glass, photography, and spending time with her family.

Email:  maryellen.auten@acalion.org

Cliff Green

B.A. English, North Carolina State University
M.A. English, North Carolina State University

Cliff Green began teaching English at ACA in 2011. Mr. Green delights in the challenges of guiding the writing and thinking of future foot-soldiers for the Kingdom, helping students contemplate important themes and philosophy, and watching young minds encounter and wrestle with big ideas. Among the Scriptures, the Gospels and Isaiah are his favorites.

Email: cliff.green@acalion.org

JoLynn Goffin

B.A. English and Secondary Education, Northern Michigan University/Warren Wilson College
M.A. English and Literature, Western Carolina University

Mrs. Goffin joined the ACA faculty in 1974. For Mrs. Goffin, her role at ACA is a part of being called to the same ministry of “repairing the ruins of our first parents.” Christian education is about redeeming culture. Mrs. Goffin believes that as seniors go off to college, it is important they know the bigger purpose for their lives in whatever profession they find themselves. Mrs. Goffin hopes her students see Jesus Christ in the history of literature of England and appreciate the beautiful, creative works they read and critique from a Biblical perspective.

Email: jolynn.goffin@acalion.org

Cheryl McIntosh

B.A. Furman University
M.A. Bible, Covenant Theological Seminary
M.A.T. Secondary English, Western Carolina University

Cheryl McIntosh began teaching English at ACA in 2002. She discovered her love for teaching while homeschooling her children and teaching group classes.  In addition to her degrees, she also has a lifetime ACSI certification. Isaiah’s 42:1-3 describes the Messiah as gentle and caring for those who are weak and broken, which is why it is her favorite verse.

Email:  cheryl.mcintosh@acalion.org

Seth Rowe

B.A. Secondary Education and English, Indiana University

Mr. Rowe became a member of the ACA upper school faculty in 2013, excited about the opportunity to combine his passions for talking about Jesus and teaching young adults. Working in education gives him the chance to think, research, and learn in a community. Before God led him to education, Mr. Rowe attended graduate school where he studied clinical counseling. Mr. Rowe also serves as the student government advisor.

Email:  seth.rowe@acalion.org

Fine Arts Department

Alex Panagiotacos
Fine Arts Director

B.S. Music, Clearwater Christian College
M. Ed. Music Education, University of Central Florida

The community of believers working together led Alex Panagiatacos to ACA in 2008. Mr. Panagiatacos enjoys fine arts education because the students’ gifts and talents are always on display for others to enjoy. He takes pleasure in seeing students achieve more than they thought was possible. Colossians 3:17 is important to him because it is a reminder that such gifts are from the Lord and believers are to use them for His glory.  

Email:  alex.panagiotacos@acalion.org

Chris Aitken
Director of Choirs

B.A. Music Education and Piano, Grove City College
M.A. Choral Conducting, Houghton College

Mr. Aitken has taught at ACA since 2010. He believes that service to Christ is an essential part of building and protecting community. Mr. Aitken sees the ACA community as an extension of his family. In addition to his music training, Mr. Aitken also completed Landmark Outreach training and Ron Clark Academy teacher training. His favorite verses are found in the book of James.

Email:  chris.aitken@acalion.org

Jennifer Edwards
Art

B.A. University of North Carolina at Asheville
M.A. Western Carolina University

Mrs. Edwards moved from her hometown of Charlotte, Michigan to study fine arts at UNCA. She remained in North Carolina to earn her master’s degree. In addition to her years spent teaching art to students of all ages, including college students, Mrs. Edwards has authored and illustrated seven children’s instructional art books. She joined the ACA faculty in 2017. 

Email: jennifer.edwards@acalion.org

Karen Whitley
Band Assistant

B.A. Flute Performance, Music Education, Winthrop University
M. Ed. Music Education, Eastern Carolina University

Mrs. Whitley began serving ACA as an adjunct teacher for sectionals and private lessons in 2011. While in college, she discovered a love for teaching music. She decided to become a music educator because she enjoys teaching students the joy of music.

Email:  karen.whitley@acalion.org

Anna Stroud
Drama and Theater

B.A. Theater, Samford University
M.A. Drama, Covenant College

Having spent 13 years attending a Christian school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Anna Stroud considers it her second home. Ms. Stroud knows the value of a community rooted in the Gospel and the importance of establishing a grace-based foundation that shapes the next generation’s worldview. She hopes her students leave her classroom with assurance that their value is not based on performance, but that they are accepted and celebrated for who God made them to be. Exodus is her favorite book in the Bible because it evidences God’s redemptive power and nature and provides parallels to Christ.

Email:  anna.stroud@acalion.org

Foreign Language

Penny Greene
Latin

B.A. Biology and Classics, University of North Carolina at Asheville

Mrs. Greene followed the call to join the ACA faculty in 2004. She believes that the subjects teachers teach are the medium by which God draws us to Him. Mrs. Greene’s hometown is Black Mountain. She enjoys wild flowers and cooking for her family. 

Email: penny.greene@acalion.org

Jessica Harrison
Spanish

B.A. Spanish Education (K-12), Lander University

Jessica Harrison came to ACA in 2016 to serve Christ and equip students. Mrs. Harrison is originally from Columbia, SC. She is Nationally Board Certified. Isaiah 41:10 helps her remember God’s presence and His hand in her life.

Email:  jessica.harrison@acalion.org

Edgar Silva
Spanish

Industrial Engineering, Universidad de San Carlos, 2000
B.A. Spanish, Concentration: Teaching Second Language, Mars Hill College, 2012
M.A. Romance Languages, Appalachian State, 2014

Originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala, Mr. Silva spent four years studying engineering at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. He went on to earn a B.A. in Spanish education from Mars Hill University and an M.A. in romance languages from Appalachian State University. Senor Silva hopes his students develop an appreciation for learning about new languages and cultures and an understanding that learning a new language is one of the best ways to learn how to embrace the diversity that God has created for us. He believes that education can change an individual’s mind, but Christian education can change an individual’s mind and heart.

Email:  edgar.silva@acalion.org

Susan Williams
French/Spanish

B.A. French and Spanish, University of North Carolina at Asheville

Mrs. Williams has taught foreign language at ACA since 1991. Mrs. Williams is not only a language teacher, but also a student. In addition to earning degrees in both French and Spanish, she has taken many Italian courses. She believes God has led her to share her appreciation and knowledge of foreign languages at ACA. 

Email:  susan.williams@acalion.org

History Department

Dr. Michael Burnette

B.S. Criminal Justice
M. P. A. Public Affairs
Ed. D. 

The freedom to integrate a Christian perspective into his instruction led Dr. Burnette to become part of the ACA faculty in 2016. Dr. Burnette, who is a seasoned educator, enjoys helping his students connect with history and apply the concepts and lessons to their own lives.

Email: michael.burnette@acalion.org

Laura Krizan

B.A. Secondary Education - History, Crown College
M.A. Christian Education, Crown College

Originally from Mansfield, Ohio, Laura Krizan became involved in Christian education because she cannot look at a subject area or an aspect of life as separate from God. She hopes that her students sense her love for them and develop a love for history during their time in her classroom. Ms. Krizan holds a degree in secondary education (history) and master’s degrees in Christian education and human services, which focuses on counseling.

Email: laura.krizan@acalion.org

Gordon Meiners

B.A. Education and History, Covenant College
M.A. American Studies, Western Carolina University

Mr. Meiners began teaching at ACA in 1980 and he still feels called to be a part of the ACA community. For Mr. Meiners, teaching is about helping students learn and apply Biblical truths as they prepare to lead the next generation. Mr. Meiners holds a lifetime ACSI certification and a Washington DC Tour Guide License. His favorite scripture is 3 John, verse 4 because it speaks of the joy one feels when their children are walking in the truth. 

Email: gordon.meiners@acalion.org

Mathematics Department

David Beaver

B.S. Mathematics, Mars Hill College
M.A.Ed. Math Education, Western Carolina University

Mr. Beaver joined ACA in 2014 after teaching at North Buncombe High School since 1985. Mr. Beaver’s involvement with ACA began before he became a part of the faculty: both of his children have attended ACA for their entire educational careers. Mr. Beaver considers it a joy to serve the Lord and the ACA community.

Email: david.beaver@acalion.org

Jeff Herzog

B.A. Biology, Washington State University
M. Ed. Washington State University at Vancouver

Jeff Herzog, whose hometown is Longview, Washington, worked in education in Hong Kong before moving to the Asheville area in 2008. He chose ACA for his family because Jesus is the center of ACA’s mission. Mr. Herzog couldn’t imagine a better career than working with students. In addition to his degrees, he is also ACSI certified and possesses professional educator certificates in North Carolina and Hong Kong.

Email:  jeff.herzog@acalion.org

Garrett Ruckel

B.S. in Mathematics, Minor in Education

Garrett Ruckel moved from Jacksonville, Florida to Asheville in 2016 to help plant a church. Education is a way for Mr. Ruckel to be the same light in the lives of students that he had when he was in school. Mr. Ruckel also serves the ACA community as an assistant baseball coach. His favorite verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17, was also the first Scripture passage he memorized as a new believer.

Email:  garrett.ruckel@acalion.org

Chris Zaccaro
Comp.Prog./Engineering

B.S. Mathematics and Secondary Education, Palm Beach Atlantic University

Chris Zaccaro has been in Christian education since 2003 when he started his career as an upper level mathematics teacher and head varsity baseball coach. Mr. Zaccaro eventually began working in Information technology. His background in education allows him to help students and teachers use technology to improve learning. He and his wife, Deana, joined the ACA community in 2014. When he is not in the computer lab or assisting the faculty and staff, he can be found helping out on the baseball field, one of his favorite places. 

Email:  chris.zaccaro@acalion.org

Physical Education

Nick Ficker
Strength and Conditioning

B.S. Health and Physical Education, Western Carolina University.

A desire to share his faith openly and guide others to do the same led Nick Ficker to teaching and coaching at ACA in 2014. Mr. Ficker is a Certified Speed Specialist through the National Association of Speed and Explosion. He believes that God has created us to do great things both in and out of the athletic arena.

Email:  nick.ficker@acalion.org

Torri Render
Physical Education

B.S. Health and Physical Education (K-12), Health and Human Performance, Roanoke College

Coach Render joined the ACA faculty in 2011 to share her love of exercise through sports. She believes that being active is a lifestyle. Coach Render integrates the purpose mentioned in Romans 8:28 into her philosophy of teaching and coaching. She sees her role as integral to helping students discover their interests, gifts, and calling.  

Email:  torri.render@acalion.org

Science Department

Tim Barnett

B.A. Natural Science/Chemistry, Covenant College 
M.Ed. Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Instruction, Covenant College

Tim Barnett began teaching at ACA in 1982. During his time at ACA, he has taught a wide variety of classes including programming, all middle school sciences, yearbook, and even drawing. He remains committed to ACA because of the solid philosophical understanding and commitment to the relationship of Christ to all aspects of culture. He spends his spare time enjoying jazz music, photography, vintage mystery novels, and serving as a deacon of the Presbyterian Church of America. Mr. Barnett favors Proverbs 24:3 and 4 and views it as a Biblical rationale for studying the creation for more than practical application.

Email: tim.barnett@acalion.org

Cheri Hagan

B.S. Biology Education, University of Alabama
Masters in Biology/English Education, University of Montevallo

Mrs. Hagan joined the ACA faculty in 1999 when she and her husband enrolled their children at ACA. Years later, Mrs. Hagan is the mother of 3 ACA graduates. In addition to her degrees in Biology, Mrs. Hagan underwent training from Western Carolina University to become certified in teaching biotechnology. She is also credited with starting the AP Biology program at ACA. 

Email: cheri.hagan@acalion.org

Alexis Zanias

B.S. Biology and Secondary Education, Grove City College
M.S. Environmental Education, Montreat College

Lexi Zanias has been teaching science at ACA since 2010. Originally from Coplay, Pennsylvania, Ms. Zanias relocated to the Asheville area from South Florida because of Christ’s centrality at ACA. It brings her great satisfaction to see a light bulb light up in a student’s face when he or she understands a scientific concept, but such an experience cannot compare to when a student recognizes who Jesus really is. 

Email:  alexis.zanias@acalion.org